An Islamic militant group in Bangladesh has issued a hitlist of secular bloggers, writers and activists around the world, saying they will be killed if its demands are not met.
The list will raise fears that Islamic militant violence within the unstable south Asian country could take on an international dimension.
The targets in the list include nine bloggers based in the UK, seven in Germany, two in the US, one in Canada and one in Sweden. Some are Bangladeshi citizens living overseas. Others are dual nationals or citizens of the western nations.
The list was issued in a statement on the internet by the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), a group that has been blamed for a series of murders of bloggers and activists in Bangladesh over the last 18 months. All those killed have been prominent critics of extremist religious doctrines, especially in Islam.
The acting leader of the ABT and two close associates were arrested earlier this month in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, on suspicion of involvement in the murder of a secular blogger earlier this year.
Individuals on the new list have told the Guardian they intend to keep writing and blogging.
“Our weapon is [the] pen, and we can use it without hurting anybody. We just want to make people conscious about their rights. So that nobody can use them to fulfill bad intentions,” said Ananya Azad, a Bangladeshi blogger who has been forced into exile in Europe and is on the list.
There has been no previous indication that the ABT was targeting bloggers overseas and the list will worry security authorities in Europe and the US.
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